Public Education Reforms in the United States
Education reforms refer to changes and transformations that need to be implemented within the curriculum in order to realize efficiency. Positive reforms are vital for the success of any given institution; thus, in education, key players such as the government, teachers, and students need to be inherently incorporated into the process if a smooth transition is expected (K12 academics, n. d). How does such a transition occur? Undoubtedly, for transformation to occur, a holistic approach that incorporates all the reasons and objectives of the stakeholders within the school systems should be incorporated. However, significant arguments have risen on how such reasons and objectives ought to be incorporated. Thus, some believe that educational reforms should be primarily centered on raising the quality of education, while others think of creating equal opportunities as a more effective way of attaining effective transformations. This essay evaluates the importance of raising the quality of education through curriculum revision, personalized learning, training and better payments, and eradication of classroom overcrowding.
Children have different interests, goals, and strengths that are often ignored. Despite the diversity in the needs and interests of every child, many educational institutions within the United States still offer courses and educational materials that treat children as if they have alike capabilities (Partelow et al., 2018). Moreover, the types of learning materials offered do not adequately address real-world issues that might affect these students directly or indirectly. Hence, according to Partelow et al. (2018), “Far too many schools are not preparing students for the world they will enter after their K-12 education.” Thereon, school curriculums need to be designed to cover complex, dynamic, and rapid real-world issues. In consequence, students should be able to gain first-hand information on challenges that are likely to occur in their career paths, the ways such challenges can be overcome, and the consequences that certain actions can bring.
Students do not have the same understanding rates; hence, some often take more extended periods to grasp concepts fully. The knowledge that children have different intellectual capacities calls for action from both the states and the school system; thus, based on past legislation, such as the 2001 act (No Child Left Behind), tutoring proved helpful in addressing challenges related to personalized learning. Personalized learning in the form of tutoring is vital for every child performing below the grade level as it can create teacher-student social-emotional relationships (Partelow et al., 2018). Such relationships often arise when students perceive a particular individual as a role model that needs to be emulated.
The 2001 act paved the way for the development of tutoring, but with its adverse challenges, other reforms implemented in the field proved helpful. Through the 2001 act (No Child Left Behind), a program known as SES (Supplemental Educational Services) was enacted; however, various challenges such as low participation rates and employment of tutors with criminal records led to its failure (Partelow et al., 2018). In consequence, its failure championed more successful programs like SAGA in regions like Chicago and Massachusetts. Hence, according to Partelow et al. (2018), students in schools that implemented the SAGA program in Chicago “received high-dose math tutoring in one year, which was equivalent to approximately two and a half years of math learning.” Additionally, in Massachusetts, schools that implemented the tutoring program attained high-performance rates as they rose from the least-performing in the state to the top 7 % of all schools in the region. Therefore, evidence from Chicago and Massachusetts blatantly showcases the benefit of tutoring on student performance; thereon, it is a reform that needs to be maintained and advanced further.
Training and Better Payments for Teachers
In the United States, teachers, unlike those in other professions, are incredibly underpaid; thus, the primary reason for their low supply in educational institutions. The annual average salary of a new teacher in the United States is approximately $36,000, while for those who are more experienced with an excellent track record their average salary is as little as $58,000 annually (Partelow et al., 2018). Consequently, the minimal salary and benefits given to those in the profession has disinterested young individuals whose qualifications might have otherwise added to the sector’s workforce. Moreover, to those already in the profession, the unfavorable wages have necessitated their resignations for greener pastures, causing a strain on the educational workforce and an undiverse workforce that cannot meet the demands of the large divergent student population.
In addition to flat salaries, minimum support and training offered to those in the teaching profession have further increased people’s disinterest in the profession. In other professions like healthcare, practitioners are usually subjected to mandatory scrutiny and guidance for a given period, unlike teaching. Thus, new teachers who have recently graduated are often petrified to teach and manage their own classrooms, thereupon delivering substandard performance. To curb this issue, teacher residency models need to be promoted inherently and made mandatory for every emerging teacher. According to Guha, Hyler, and Hammond (2016), teacher residency models effectively provide mentorship to new teachers as it creates a platform where a candidate is given lessons on how to deliver and manage a classroom efficiently.
Address Classroom Overcrowding
Classroom overcrowding is a significant problem in the United States; thus, its prevalence is associated with several challenges related to student performance. According to a NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) study survey, the prevalence of overcrowding among classrooms has been noted in various states like New Mexico, Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan, and Delaware. Hence, in public schools generally, the issue of overcrowding is rampant among eighth-grade and fourth-grade students (Cai, 2020). Moreso, the issue of overcrowding affects students from low socio-economic backgrounds who cannot afford the expensive, privatized, high-end learning facilities, and in addition to the students, teachers also are greatly affected by the overgrowing issue.
Classroom overcrowding adversely affects a teacher’s efficacy and a student’s capability to pay attention. Overcrowding in classrooms can lead to high amounts of stress, which comes with managing large groups of rowdy students. High-stress levels can, in turn, increase the rates of teacher absenteeism, hence, the decline in student academic performance (Cai, 2020). Additionally, alternate unsafe environments- storage rooms, auditoriums, or gymnasiums- used for teaching limits concentration levels among students since the risk of hazards is paramount. Thus, according to research by Cai (2020), “students whose teachers reported issues regarding their workspaces performed much lower than those whose teachers had no such challenges.”
A proportion of individuals postulate that reforms can be realized in the United States’ public education sector not through raising quality but through creating equal opportunities. O’Day and Smith (2016) state that “education is the great equalizer,” but that has not been realized because we are in an “unequal present” where achievements in education are entirely based on a student’s background. Basically, all the different types of reforms that have been imposed are unhelpful since segregation, individual/neighborhood poverty, and parent education are what shape the education system.
In summary, this essay has evaluated the importance of raising the quality of education through curriculum revision, personalized learning, training and better payments, and eradication of classroom overcrowding. Curriculum revision has covered the difference in children’s interests, goals, and strengths. Personalized learning explores students’ different understanding rates and the importance of tutoring. Pieces of training reflect the importance of teacher residency models, while payments are about minimal wages offered to teachers. Finally, classroom overcrowding covered its prevalence and effects on both teachers and students.
Cai, J. (2020). Safe and healthy buildings. National school boards association. https://www.nsba.org/ASBJ/2021/august/safe-and-healthy-buildings
Guha, R., Hyler, M. E., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2016). The teacher residency: An innovative model for preparing teachers. Learning Policy Institute.
K12 Academics. (n. d). Motivations of education reform. https://www.k12academics.com/education-reform/motivations
O’Day, J. A., & Smith, M. S. (2016). Quality and equality in American education: Systemic problems, systemic solutions. In The dynamics of opportunity in America (pp. 297-358). Springer, Cham.
Partelow, L., Brown, C., Shapiro, S., & Johnson, S. (7). great education policy ideas for progressives in 2018. Center for American Progress. Retrieved from https://cdn. American progress. org/content/uploads/2018/03/27134210/7eduPolicyIdeas-brief-2. pdf. (in English).